tv PBS News Hour PBS February 1, 2017 3:00pm-4:00pm PST
captioning sponsored by newshour productions, llc >> woodruff: good evening. i'm judy woodruff. >> o'brien: and i'm miles o'brien. >> woodruff: on the newshour tonight: >> the action people are seeing in these early days is just the beginning. >> woodruff: in his first television interview since the inauguration, i sit down with vice president mike pence to talk the first days in office and the president's recent supreme court pick. >> i do believe that as judge gorsuch travels across capitol hill in the weeks ahead, sitting with republicans and democrats, they're going to see what the president saw. >> o'brien: also ahead this wednesday, a deep dive look at judge gorsuch, and what his past decisions can tell us about the future of the court. >> woodruff: and, in ghana, how clean cooking technology may help reduce exposure to dangerous smoke for mothers and
their children. >> i'm really committed to this because millions of people die from these illnesses, and we have to do something about it. we have to stop it. >> o'brien: all that and more, on tonight's pbs newshour. >> major funding for the pbs newshour has been provided by: ♪ ♪ moving our economy for 160 years. bnsf, the engine that connects us.
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thank you. >> woodruff: president trump has named his supreme court nominee, and now the battle begins for his confirmation. senators form both political parties began lining up today, and mr. trump warned democrats not to filibuster. lisa desjardins begins our coverage. >> good afternoon. >> reporter: the president was out early today, touting the man he wants on the high court, neil gorsuch. >> he is just a spectacular man. i think he'll be a spectacular-- you tell me how would they go about opposing him. he's perfect in almost every way. >> reporter: that at a meeting of conservative and business groups, from the chamber of commerce, to the national rifle association, to the national right to life foundation. mr. trump vowed to push through gorsuch, and if democrats filibuster, he said senate majority leader mitch mcconnell should do what it takes: >> if we end up with that gridlock-- i would say, "if you can, mitch, go nuclear." because that would be an
absolute shame, if a man of this quality was caught up in this web. it's up to mitch, but i would >> reporter: the so-called "nuclear option," considered a monumental change in rules, would allow the senate to confirm a nominee with a simple majority rather than 60 votes. senator mcconnell met with gorsuch on capitol hill today. on the senate floor, no mention of the nuclear option. but mcconnell stressed that democrats supported gorsuch to be a federal appeals judge, in 2006. >> he was confirmed without any votes in opposition. that's right, madam president, not a single democrat opposed judge gorsuch's nomination. not senator barack obama, not senator hillary clinton, not senators joe biden or ted kennedy. >> reporter: but minority leader chuck schumer said any talk of a rule change should be off the table. >> the answer should not be to change the rules of the senate
but to change the nominee to someone who can earn 60 votes. 60 votes produces a mainstream candidate. >> reporter: already several democrats said they will try to hold up gorsuch's confirmation, including elizabeth warren of massachusetts and sherrod brown of ohio, among others. many are still outraged over the republican refusal last year to consider merrick garland, former president obama's pick to fill the supreme court vacancy. as it stands, all 52 senate republicans are expected to support gorsuch. they need at least eight other votes to get to 60. one possible factor: 23 democratic senators are up for re-election in 2018, including ten in states that mr. trump won last november. the nomination is confermd. >> reporter: the senate did vote today to confirm former exxon mobil c.e.o. rex tillerson for secretary of state. and the nominee for attorney general, alabama senator jeff
sessions, made it out of committee on a straight, party- line vote. in an extraordinary hearing, republicans on the senate finance committee suspended their rules to push through nominees for treasury secretary, steve mnuchin, and health and human services, tom price. that, after democrats boycotted and froze the committee which requires at least one democrat be present. in response, republican chairman orrin hatch moved to suspend that rule. >> we took some unprecedented actions today due to the unprecedented obstruction on the part of our colleagues. as i noted earlier, the senate finance committee has traditionally been able to function in even the most divisive political environments. that all changed yesterday. >> reporter: elsewhere, democrats delayed committee votes on the nominees to head the environmental protection agency, scott pruitt, and office of budget and management, mick mulvaney. meanwhile, two republican senators, lisa murkowski of alaksa and susan collins of maine, broke ranks to say they would not vote for mr. trump's choice for education secretary betsy devos.
>> i'm concerned that mrs. devos's lack of experience with public schools will make it difficult for her to fully understand, identify and assist with those challenges. >> reporter: no democrats have said they will vote for devos. if all other republicans back her, she would end up with a 50-50 vote and vice president mike pence would have to break the tie. >> judy. >> woodruff: lisa, you reported a moment ago that judge gorsuch hit the ground running. they feel pressure to get this thing moving quickly? >> they do. today, mr. gorsuch had six meetings at the , five of those with republicans. that's approaching the total number of republicans who ever met with merrick garland just today. republicanrepublicans are tryine him as middle of the road. daernlings, of course, are not so sure. >> woodruff: and, lisa, you also referred to 10 democrats who you said are suggested, or are important to this process. what do we know about them?
>> that's right, that's a 55ical group. we already know one of those democrats, sherrod brown of ohio, is a no vote on mr. gorsuch. so that leaves nine more for the eight votes the republicans would need. they have to get almost all of them. most of them are holding back, noteral tipping their hand yet, but i talked to perhaps most critical one, joe manchin. interesting, judy, he told me he has real concerns about mr. gorsuch. specifically campaign finance. he has ruled against stricter campaign finance, and joe manchin said that's a concern of his. >> woodruff: finally, lisa, turning to the cabinet, when does it look as if, if you know, the president is going to get all the cabinet choices confirmed? >> i love that question because i have to tell you the atmosphere up here is nothing like i've ever experienced. it's such a frenzy. that's the bottom line. i think the way democrats are handling things right now, blocking, delaying, questioning as much as they can, i think it will be weeks before president trump could see all of his cabinet nominees place.
>> woodruff: lisa desjardins reporting for us from the capitol. >capitol. thank you, lisa. >> woodruff: well, we turn now to my interview at the white house today with vice president mike pence, his first since assuming the office. i began by asking the former indiana governor how he thinks first few days in office have gone, a time that some have described as turbulent. >> i think we're off to a great start. i think the american people are seeing in president trump a leader who is keeping his word to the american people. we like to say we're in the promise-keeping business. and literally, from the first day of this administration we've been working to put into effect the policies that the president campaigned on, and that we really do believe will strengthen america at home and abroad. >> woodruff: so, big announcement last night. the president announced his choice to fill that vacancy on the supreme court, judge neil gorsuch. i think virtually everybody agrees he is imminently qualified to be on the court.
democrats are pointing out, so is merrick garland, imminently qualified. but republicans didn't give the hearing for nine months. why is this different? >> well, first let me agree with you strongly that judge neil gorsuch is exceptionally qualified to serve on the supreme court of the united states. he actually was confirmed unanimously by the united states senate for the tenth circuit a decade ago, and has an academic career that spans from columbia to harvard to oxford. and yet he's a man of the west, a fourth-generation coloradan. and i think he brings practical, real-word experience, but an extraordinary intellect to succeed, not replace, the late justice antonin scalia. and i know the president's grateful that judge gorsuch is willing to step forward. and i think it's one more example of president trump keeping his word to the american
people to appoint to the court someone who will be faithful to the constitution and apply the law as written. >> woodruff: but if republicans weren't willing to hold a hearing for nine months for president obama's pick for that vacancy, why should democrats do the same thing? >> well, we understand there's some angst. and i talked to republican and democrat members of the senate about last year. but, it was a vacancy in an election year. and i think it's important to remember that the court itself, the federal government itself belongs to the american people. and the decision that the majority made is essentially to put the direction of the court and the appointment of this justice in the hands of the american people. and they did that. and in president trump they elected someone who's committed to appoint someone in the tradition of the late justice antonin scalia.
he did that last night. and i think the very broad and bipartisan support that you're witnessing for judge gorsuch is a reflection both of his character, of his career, but also a gratitude that president trump has followed through and did exactly what he said he would do one more time. >> woodruff: so democrats say they are going to look at his record, they have a lot of questions. they want to see if he's in the mainstream. if they decide to slow this down, this process down, should the senate majority leader, mitch mcconnell, go ahead and change the rules? so that instead of 60, which it is now, votes required, it would only take 50, the so-called nuclear option? we know the president said this morning "go ahead and go nuclear" he said to senator mcconnell. do you think that's what he'll do? >> president trump and i, and our whole administration are extraordinarily enthusiastic about the opportunity to see judge gorsuch confirmed by the senate.
it's one of the reasons why i accompanied him to capitol hill today to get those conversations started. but let me also say we're very heartened by the response now of seven democrat members of the senate who said that they believe the judge deserves an up or down vote. and i do believe that as judge gorsuch travels across capitol hill in the weeks ahead, sitting down with republicans and democrats, they're going to see what the president saw. someone who is a first-class intellect, a fourth-generation coloradan, and someone who in a fair and impartial way is going to uphold the constitution and apply the law as written. >> woodruff: but, you know... >> we believe that he'll get that same level of consideration that the nominees in the first term for president clinton received, the nominees for president obama received in their first term. >> woodruff: so you don't think the senate majority leader mcconnell will have to resort to so-called nuclear option? >> i'm hopeful that he doesn't.
i'm hopeful that he doesn't. the president and our entire team are committed to supporting judge gorsuch's nomination. but i do believe that when you look at those first term nominations of president clinton. >> woodruff: right. >> and of president obama, none of those were filibustered. all four received broad bipartisan support. and all were considered and resolved in the senate in a matter of 60 to 70 days. i do believe that once members of the senate in both parties have a chance to sit down with judge gorsuch, we're going to see the same bipartisan support. >> woodruff: i want to turn now to the immigration executive order that was issued over the weekend. we looked this up, and since 2001, 9/11, 82% of the fatal attacks by islamic extremists in this country were committed by either legal permanent residents or citizens. the rest were committed by people who were not from these seven countries that this
ban applies to. so is this the right answer? >> i believe it is. president trump has no higher priority than the safety and security of the american people. and he made it clear in this eection, particularly in the wake of the terrorist attack in paris where individuals had used a refugee program to gain access to that country. the president made it clear that we were going to pause. we were going to implement extreme vetting. and focusing on countries that the obama administration and the congress have identified as being problematic, being in many ways compromised by terrorism. having a pause that ensures the people that are coming into the country don't represent a threat to our people or to our communities is of paramount importance. >> woodruff: even though they're not a country from which those who perpetrated terrible acts come?
>> well, the reality is, is there's a-- as you've seen, american forces on the move overseas just in the last week, and the loss of life of a courageous navy seal... >> woodruff: in yemen. >> we are in a struggle against rdical islamic terrorism, al-qaeda and isis. the president, in his campaign for office, made it clear that he would make a priority of confronting radical islamic terrorism abroad. but also adding new measures to ensure that individuals would not be coming into this country with the motivation to harm our people. and we really do believe that this temporary pause with regard to the countries other than syria, temporary pause where we evaluate our screening process and ensure that people coming into the country don't represent a threat is appropriate. >> woodruff: well, i want to pick up on what you said because
a number of even republican senators, john mccain, lindsey graham, ben sasse, former c.i.a. director michael hayden have said their concern is that by doing what the administration has done it's going to, not make this country safer, but it's going to encourage those overseas who are trying to recruit new people into the jihadist movement. they are going to use this as an excuse and say, see, we told you the u.s. doesn't like anybody who is muslim. in other words, they're saying it's going to have the opposite of the intended effect. >> i'm aware of those comments. but i respectfully disagree with them. i truly do believe that president trump making decisions to pause our various immigration programs and refugee programs for a period of time so that we can ensure that there are new safeguards in place, just as secretary kelly described this week, is in keeping with the expectation of the american
people. and i have to tell you, having been a governor and now having the privilege to serve as vice president, it heartens me to know the passion that president trump has for ensuring our system of immigration, the way people come into this country is operated in a way that puts safety and security and the wellbeing of every american, regardless of their race or creed, first and foremost. >> woodruff: and you not only have, as i said, bipartisan senators making some of these comments but a thousands people who work at the state department have signed a letter saying they think this is going to lead to the country being less safe. we heard the press secretary at the white house, sean spicer, say, if they don't-- if they're not on board, don't stay in your job. is that how you view this? their dissent? >> well, obviously there's a history of-- and a tradition even within the state department for dissenting opinions.
and i can tell you, working with president trump closely and seeing the way he operates as a leader, he's always interested in a broad range of opinions. but make no mistake about it. we want, in this administration, people that share the president's vision a safer america. for a stronger america. for a more prosperous america. and i believe, as secretary kelly laid out in that press conference this week, that people are getting a better sense of the direction, the focus of this executive order. we're making sure that all due process rights of individuals are respected. all orders from courts that have been imposed in recent days are being respected. but secretary kelly, with his vast background in military, is bringing his abilities and his judgment to bare to implement that order in a way that i believe is a great source of comfort and confidence for the
american people. but let's be clear again. this is what president trump said he was going to do in the election. and what the american people have seen in these early days of the administration is that president trump is a man of his word. >> woodruff: just quickly. you, the president and others have said this is not a ban on muslims. it is very specific to these countries. but there are those out there who are reading this as the beginning of what they fear will be a religious test. are you confident that this is not going to lead to some sort of religious litmus test for people coming into this country? that america will continue to welcome people of all faiths? >> oh, i'm very confident of that. our religious liberty, our religious pluralism is a hallmark of america, celebrated by our people and reflected on all over the world. and i think the focus of the president's action here is very clear. and that is identifying countries that the obama administration and the congress have confirmed lack the kind of internal safeguards so we can know who these people are for
certain who are seeking to gain admission to our country. it's just simply appropriate for us to pause and to look at everyone who's applying to come in from those areas that have been compromised by terrorism. and ensure that the people, as the president says, the people that come to this country love this country and want to be a part of our communities and our nation. >> woodruff: there are voices coming from the capitol, members of congress who are saying they were not adequately consulted. senator pat roberts of kansas was saying the president needs to consult with congress. yes, some staff was brought in, but there needs to be more consultation. >> i will tell you that in the early days of this administration we've been engaging very rigorously on a broad range of issues with members of the senate. and we're going to continue to prove those efforts its-- with republicans and democrats-- in the course of the president's consideration of his nominees of
the supreme court, he dispatched me to capitol hill to talk with republicans and democrats. he met with republican and democrat leaders in the oval office. i think what you're going to continue to see on an increasing basis is more consultation, and more input. but at the end of the day, the american people are going to continue to see strong and decisive leadership from president trump that i think will make america great again. >> woodruff: moving through a lot of reporting in the last few days about steve bannon, the adviser to the president, having more influence than anyone else now on the president. and looking at his background, running breitbart news, being an advocate of limiting immigration, keeping out people from the united states who are not, in his view, welcome here. are you comfortable with the amount of influence mr. bannon has? >> i'm very comfortable with the fact that there's only one person in charge of the trump administration.
and that's president donald trump. >> woodruff: all right. >> but we value steve bannon's input. here's an individual serving in a war, a captain in the united states navy, a partner at goldman sachs, successful businessperson who brings a strong perspective into discussions. but to be around president trump, i can tell you judy, it's very dynamic. he leads by asking questions. he asks for input from everyone in the senior circle and a lot of people outside the circle. and then he makes decisions. i think the action that people are seeing in these early days is just the beginning. i think it's a prelude to the kind of energetic and decisive leadership the american people haven't seen for a while in the oval office. and i'm honored to be a small part of it. >> woodruff: three very quick questions. the border wall with mexico. there was talk of a 20% tax. is that going to happen? >> we're working right now with the congress on tax reform legislation. i expect it'll come this spring. and we'll do part of president's commitment to get this economy moving again.
but make no mistake about it. whether it be our negotiations with countries in bilateral trade agreements, or whether it be in developing reforms of our tax code, we are determined to support the president's vision to take the incentives out that make it attractive for companies to pull up stakes like in my home state of indiana, and leave and take jobs out of the country down to mexico and elsewhere. we really believe that we can bring about changes in the tax code that will make america more attractive for investment and job creation and business. but the president's also made it very clear that he wants to put-- he wants to put new elements in the tax code that are going to have companies pay a price if they decide to take jobs out of the country and then sell their goods back into the united states. >> woodruff: very quickly about priorities. a lot of talk about tax cuts. you just mentioned that. about infrastructure, and about
health care. about, not just getting rid of the obamacare plan, but replacing it. is one of those a priority over the others? >> the president made very clear to leaders in congress from right after the election that repealing and replacing obamacare will be the first priority of this administration. and we've been working very closely with leaders of the house and senate to formulate a plan that will happen simultaneously. that's the other piece of this that's very important. the president made it clear that he expected congress, while they take action to repeal the most corrosive elements of obamacare, the taxes, the mandates, things that are suppressing job creation and driving up the premiums for working families across the country. but he made it very clear that in the very same breath he wants to see the congress bring forward the kind of replacement plan both through legislation-- and we'll support through executive action-- that will create a better health care
system that expands consumer choices and drives down the cost for health insurance for every american. >> woodruff: final question. the tone coming from this administration. you-- folk out there who voted for president trump and for you, polls are already showing they're very happy with what they're seeing. at the same time, in the president's inaugural address, you could argue the immigration order, some of the president's tweets, there's a sense that it's not a-- there's not an effort to reach beyond the base, people who supported this president and you originally. is that the message you want the american people to have right now? that it's not going to be an outward-looking, inviting-in message? that it's going to be more of a, you know, we're going to continue to talk to those who sent us here? >> i think there's two messages coming out in these early days, judy. number one is president trump's going to keep the promises he
made to the american people through decisive executive action and through legislation. the other message is the same one he delivered on election night, that he's committed to being the president for every american. i've sat in that roosevelt room in the west wing where he's brought in people, labor union leaders recently, to sit down with people who largely did not support him in the campaign and said how can we work together? i was there in new york when he brought together high tech executives, many of whom actually strongly supported our opponent in the election. and he simply sat down and said, "how do we make it more possible for you to create more good- paying jobs in the united states?" i think as time goes on, it is going to be more apparent to more americans. president trump is going to be president for everyone. >> woodruff: vice president mike pence, we thank you very much for talking with us.
>> o'brien: in the day's other news, president donald trump made a surprise trip to honor the first u.s. serviceman killed in combat since he took office. chief special warfare officer william "ryan" owens, a navy seal, died sunday in a raid on al-queda in yemen. the president flew to dover air force base, delaware, as the remains returned. the ceremony was kept private, at the family's request. >> woodruff: the white house also issued a warning today, to iran. it follows the islamic republic's test launch of a ballistic missile this week. the president's national security advisor, michael flynn, came to the white house briefing room this afternoon to address the issue. >> president trump has severely criticized the various agreements reached between iran and the obama administration, as well as the united nations, as being weak and ineffective. instead of being thankful to the united states for these agreements, iran is now feeling emboldened. as of today, we are officially putting iran on notice. >> woodruff: white house
officials said later that they are reviewing how to respond. meanwhile, iran's defense minister confirmed the missile firing, but he said: "we will not let any foreigner meddle with our defense issues." >> o'brien: a u.s. watchdog agency is warning that the government of afghanistan now controls less than 60% of its territory. the special inspector general for afghan reconstruction says that's down 15% from 2015. government forces have retreated in the face of taliban and islamic state militants. >> woodruff: britain's departure from the european union, brexit, is one step closer to becoming reality. the house of commons voted today to authorize the beginning of formal talks with the e.u. the bill now goes to committee, before a final vote in the full commons, next week. it also requires approval by the house of lords. >> o'brien: president trump's immigration order will not apply to green card holders-- so, they don't need waivers. that word from the white house today. legal, permanent residents were thrown into confusion when the
order was issued. officials later said they'd be granted waivers. today, the president's spokesman said that's not necessary. >> we have interpreted the guidance to all of these agencies-- to both the acting secretary of state, the acting attorney general, and the acting secretary of homeland security-- that the guidance is, that all individuals responsible for the administration implementation of this order, that that does not apply, they no longer need a waiver. because if they are a legal permanent resident, they won't need it anymore. >> o'brien: meanwhile, the u.s. customs and border patrol has a new boss: career c.b.p. official ronald vitiello got the nod. the border agents' union backed president trump in the election, and supported vitiello. >> woodruff: house republicans moved today to rescind regulations from president obama's final days in office. their first vote, this afternoon, overturned a december rule that barred dumping coal mining debris into nearby streams. the "congressional review act" allows simple-majority votes on rules imposed since last june.
it also bars the executive branch from re-imposing similar regulations in the future. >> o'brien: president trump's pick to lead the veterans affairs department says letting vets see private doctors might help cut long wait times. david shulkin is currently the v.a.'s top health official. he told his senate confirmation hearing today that he supports partial, but not full, privatization. >> there will be far greater accountability, dramatically improved access, responsiveness and expanded care options, but the department of veteran affairs will not be privatized under my watch. if confirmed, i intend to build a system that puts veterans first, and allows them to get the best possible health care and services wherever they may be, in the v.a. or in the community. >> o'brien: shulkin also cautioned that it could take years to fix the wait-time problem for good. >> woodruff: the army corps of engineers confirmed today that it has begun reviewing an easement for the dakota access pipeline in part of north dakota. but a spokesman said that does not mean the easement has been granted.
president trump has said he wants to get the pipeline completed. protesters have vowed to fight any decisions with legal action. >> o'brien: volkswagen will pay $1.2 billion in it's latest settlement over emissions cheating. the german automaker filed documents in federal court in san francisco last night. it agrees to fix or buy back almost 80,000 cars with larger diesel engines. an earlier settlement provides $15 billion to owners of 500,000 cars with smaller diesel engines. >> woodruff: the federal reserve left its key interest rate unchanged today. it said it wants more time to monitor economic progress. and on wall street, the dow jones industrial average gained almost 27 points to close near 19,891. the nasdaq rose nearly 28, and the s&p 500 added a fraction. still to come on the newshour: what sort of justice would judge neil gorsuch be? we will take a look at his record; combating a silent killer in ghana; and, a new
study reveals higher rates of cervical cancer than previously thought. >> o'brien: now, for a closer look at the man who could shape the conservative direction of the u.s. supreme court for decades to come. a national tv audience looked on last night as judge neil gorsuch summed up his judicial philosophy. >> i respect, too, the fact that >> it is the role of judges to apply, not alter, the work of the people's representatives. a judge who likes every outcome he reaches is very likely a bad judge. >> o'brien: gorsuch was schooled at columbia university, obtained a harvard law degree, and then a degree at oxford. he clerked for then-justice byron white and justice anthony kennedy, who still serves on the court. and, he practiced law privately before joining the department of justice. then, in 2006, president bush
nominated him to the tenth circuit court of appeals, based in denver. he won unanimous senate confirmation. in the decade since, gorsuch has made his mark in several notable cases, especially on religious liberty. he sided with the "hobby lobby" challenge to obamacare, ruling for religious organizations opposing a contraceptive mandate. in that decision, gorsuch, along with two other judges, wrote: "for some, religion provides an essential source of guidance, both about what constitutes wrongful conduct and the degree to which those who assist others in committing wrongful conduct themselves bear moral culpability." if confirmed, gorsuch would fill the seat of the late antonin scalia. last night, gorsuch called scalia a "lion" of the law. now, at age 49, gorsuch has a chance to bring that same legal philosophy to bear, for decades to come. and to dig into what we know about that legal philosophy, we
are joined by two longtime supreme court watchers: nina totenberg, legal affairs correspondent for npr; and marcia coyle, chief washington correspondent for "the national law journal," and a newshour regular. thank you both for being with us. nina, let's begin with you. we'll look at a landmark case, the hobby lobby case which gets into religious freedom, rights of employers versus employees-- that's a real shorthand version of it. i'm going to read you a little passage from a ruling that was authored by him in a lower court, obviously. he says this: so in this case, what happened as a result, is that a small, closely held company was not forced, as part of the affordable care act, to provide birth control to its employees.
what can we read into that as far as it might relate to other rulings, which would come to the high court? >> this was a dissent that gorsuch authored, and he was vinticateed by a 5-4 vote on the supreme court. and what tho those who are concd about his nomination would say, i think, is that if you apply this rationale to, for example, gay rights, you could imagine that very easily, that he would side with businessorns who don't want to serve gay people, business owners who might not want to employ gay people despite laws to the contrary. it could involve lots of different kinds of civil rights laws. and that is really the tension here that is going to provoke a considerable debate. >> o'brien: mash aobviously, a big issue. is there a specific case in the pipeline that we know of that might rise to the level of the
supreme court that might test his feelings on this? >> absolutely. in fact, there's a case pending in the court. the court hasn't decided whether to tac take it up or not, that involves a bakery that did not want to bake a wedding cake for a same-sex couple, and the claim here is that to do so would violate their religious beliefs. so this is something that civil rights organizations are concerned about. there have been other cases around the country involving photographers who wouldn't photograph a same-sex bedding because of their religious beliefs. and i think, as nina just said, judge gorsuch's dissent here does give some concern to these civil rights organizations as to how far you can take not only his comments but the supreme court's hobby lobby decision. >> o'brien: everybody is
curious about "roe v. wade," nina. haven't seen anything where we has goned in on this realm. but he wrote a book in 2006 on euthanasia, and assisted suicide, very much opposed to it. can we interpret anything out of that book and his philosophy there and apply that to how he might interpret the law. what do you think? >> well, in the book he talks about the value of human life, but at the same time, he makes the argument that individuals should be able to refuse treatment even if it leads to their deaths. i don't think you can say he's written on point in any legal decision about this. certainly, his vote will not make the difference, as long as the rest of the members of the court remain the same. it will still be a 5-4 vote upholding roe, or the core of "roe" as the court put it, and just this year we saw justice anthony kennedy write-- be the fifth and decisive vote in a case that struck down the newest
wave of attempts to limit access to abortion. and as long as he's there and the other members of the court remain the same, it's not going to change. but if he leaves or justice ginsberg, who is almost 84, leaves, or if justice breyer, who is 78, leaves, it will make a difference. and then that would open the door at that moment, a second trump nominee, would open the door to the possibility of reverses "roe." >> o'brien: mash awould you concur with na? >> i would. i think his book is a very heavily researched, very nuanced approach to the issue of assisted suicide. and i think as nina said, he comes down on personal autonomy, but doesn't seem to favor government legalizing assisted suicide. and definitely in terms of the politics of the court on rorks vwade, his vote will not make a difference right now, the next-- if the next justice leaves, particularly justice kennedy or someone on the left side of the
bench. then we could face an overturning of a 44-year-old precedent. >> o'brien: so, nina, with all that in mind, what is the strategy from the democrats' side of the senate as it approaches this nomination? >> well, it's a rather exquisite calculus that they have to make. because they don't have the votes to prevail arct least at the moment. let's assume that there's a-- the confirmation hearing is uneventful relatively speaking, and we're-- we are where we are today. well, i imagine most democrats are going to vote against this nominee, but they don't have the votes to defeat him outright. then the question is do they filibuster? well, if they filibuster, the republicans could, as say they, go nuclear, and abolish the filibuster rule for supreme court nominees. and what they're really worried about, i suspect, is not this
nomination but the next nomination, which could change the balance of the court for generations to come. at the same time, though, democrats in the senate are under enormous pressure from the left flank and from their own constituents will in the democratic party who are out in the streets, who are outraged by everything that has gone on in the last two weeks, the first two weeks of the trump administration, and in much the way that the street-- the republican street led the republican party in the election this year, the democratic street is leading the democratic party in the senate. >> o'brien: marcia, are they going to go nuclear gidon't know, i would-- i i'm not sure they have a coherent strategy at the moment. i think sometimes we also put too much emphasis on the abortion issue. i'm sure the democrats and their supporters, the marchers who were here during the women's march on washington, there were many other issues that they see
that may be coming to the supreme court as a result of president trump's executive orders, and perhaps future actions as well. and so the stakes are, in terms of the supreme court, are much mirg hirg than just abortion. and i also sense there is still a lot of anger on the democratic side of the senate in the way that president obama's nominee was treated, judge-- chief judge merrick garland. there's some sentence of wanting to have payback for that. but we have to wait and see. >> i have to say that i've talked to a lot of democrats today, and my sense is that the-- on all of these issues, their constituents are more angry than they are, and they were pretty mad about the way merrick garland was treated in their view. they were furious. but not as furious as their constituents are. >> o'brien: nina totenberg, marcia coyle, two of the best
court watchers in the land, thank you both very much. >> my pleasure. >> woodruff: nearly half the world's population, three billion people, cook using stoves that burn bio-mass fuel, like wood or charcoal. that seemingly-harmless act is silently killing millions every year because of regular exposure to harmful smoke. an international alliance is on a mission to reduce those deaths by distributing 100 million cleaner stoves around the world, but some health experts doubt whether those new stoves can truly save lives. as hari sreenivasan reports in a story produced with global health frontiers, researchers in ghana are trying to find the answer. >> most of our communities and households in ghana-- actually,
in africa-- are rural by nature, and therefore they depend on wood to cook their food, to heat their water. >> reporter: dr. kwaku poku asante is the head of research at the kintampo health research center of the ghana health service. he's leading a study on the effects of wood smoke on the health of women and children in rural ghana. >> the women who do commercial cooking with the traditional cookstoves, they get a very large amount of smoke coming out of the wood. and sometimes you see them with their kids on their back, and that is really a problem. >> reporter: household air pollution from the burning of bio-mass fuel, like wood and charcoal, is known to cause respiratory diseases such as pneumonia, as well as chronic pulmonary and cardiovascular diseases. >> i'm really committed to this because millions of people die from these illnesses, and we have to do something about it. we have to stop it.
>> there's something wrong with your baby. >> reporter: dr. abena yawson is a public health physician with the kintampo health research center. >> this is the pediatric ward for kintampo municipal hospital. you can see it's very busy. this baby was admitted because of fever and cough. the mother noted she was breathing with difficulty, and we actually have diagnosed the child as having bronchial pneumonia. she's using charcoal in a traditional cookstove, to cook. and there are times when she's cooking, she coughs, because she gets to inhale smoke. >> reporter: pregnant women and their children face the most risk from these diseases, and the objective of this study in kintampo is to look at the impact of household air pollution on low birth weight and pneumonia among about one thousand four hundred pregnant women and their children in 35 communities in the study area. professor darby jack at columbia
university is a partner with the ghanaians on the project, supported by the u.s. national institutes of health. >> we recruit women during pregnancy and we give them a clean-burning cookstove-- either l.p.g., which is the propane or butane, which is the same thing you probably cook with in your backyard grill; or a stove called the biolite, which is an efficient bio-mass burning stove and can reduce emissions by about half. >> reporter: the study measures exposure to carbon monoxide from the cookstoves, and to small particles in the smoke-- particulates that can penetrate deep into lungs and enter the bloodstream. >> so we deploy personal monitors mothers can wear and that the children can wear for 72 hours at a time. >> reporter: at regular intervals, exposure monitors are collected and their data is downloaded. >> we set out to test two hypotheses. the first is that reducing exposure to household air pollution will increase birth weight. and then the second hypothesis is that reduced exposure will
reduce the rate of pneumonia in the first year of life. the core questions here are, how clean is clean enough? and then number two, what technology will bring us there? >> we are not in a position to recommend any of the stoves that we have tested. that will be left with the policy-makers. ours is to generate the evidence. >> reporter: the evidence is still incomplete, but results so far are encouraging. >> i'm sure all the household actually might have gotten high exposure to smoke because of how close it is to the building that they live in. and this is what the woman was using until the biolite was given to her. >> she actually enjoys cooking with the biolite because she doesn't get sore eyes after cooking, and the coughs that used to be very frequent with the traditional cookstove are also not there. so the baby hasn't been ill since birth. he has very good reflexes.
he's pink, he's not pale. so he's looking generally very beautiful and healthy. bye-bye! >> i would like to see in the next decade, to see the burden of pneumonia come down. and also to see people use improved cookstoves. i would like to see a commitment from other partners, if we show the evidence that the use of improved cookstoves reduces the burden of many diseases. >> reporter: and there's another benefit to be expected from improved cookstoves: women and young girls spend hours every day gathering wood for fuel. released from that burden, they could spend more time going to school, or caring for their children. for the pbs newshour, i'm hari sreenivasan. >> o'brien: now, the toll of
cervical cancer, and recent findings that suggest its death rate is higher than we thought. that's the focus of our weekly segment, "the leading edge." estimates had shown more than 4,000 women in the u.s. die from cervical cancer each year, and that the death rate dropped dramatically over past decades. but an analysis published in the journal "cancer" found the mortality rate is higher than previously thought, and it is significantly higher among african american women. the findings were particularly concerning because cervical cancer can often be prevented through better screening, and the h.p.v. vaccine can prevent some cases. dr. jennifer caudle is a family physician and an assistant professor at rowan university. she has been writing about these findings and the implications for her clinical practice, and joins me now. dr. caudel, good to have you with us. >> thanks so much. >> o'brien: tell us what's new about this study? >> well, i think it's actually
quite profound. as a family physician myself, as a woman myself, i thought that the results of the study were actually quite staggering. basically, researchers found that we'd been underestimating the levels will of cervical cancer mortality, and not only that but we've also been underestimating the amount of racial disparities that exist in cervical cancer mortality. basically, the problem is bigger and worse than we thought. and i think that it's actually quite significant. >> o'brien: well, so, let's, first of all, talk about the underestimation as general. how can something like that happen? this is a study of studies, taking a second look at numbers, right? >> that's right. >> o'brien: and what did they find that others overlooked? >> that's a good question. i always say the devil is in the details. the qeez this particular study is they took into account whether a woman had a hysterectomy or not pain complete hysterectomy is when a woman has her cervic removed. that along with the fact that black women tell toend have a
higher prevalence of hysterectomies, you can see how both of those factords, when taken into consideration can cause the results that we saw. so basically, when researchers looked at whether a woman had a hysterectomy or not, we found that our prior results null tullely had been underestimated and more women had cervical cancer mortality rates, higher rates, and more racial disparitiedisparities that thane thought. >> o'brien: so you really don't have to be a scientist to realize if you remove the group of people who don't have a cervic at all, you will have a different set of numbers. help us understand a little bit more why african american women might disproportionately be affected. >> i'm really glad we're talking about this. when i wrote my op-ed peace, you know, i was speak as a family physician but also as a black woman. and racial disparities in health care, it's not new. unfortunately, we see racial disparities in health care in cervical cancers here but also many other cancers and other conditions. one of the things we're looking at is why exactly these racial disparities exist.
yes, there are many organizations that have been working on this sort of topic globally, and there's not one answer, but we do think there might be some reasons why black women have higher rates of cervical cancer mortality. some of those being access too care. the ability to get screened early to, get screened period. the type of cancer that black women get versus white women, and the types of treatments that are offered. so those are some of the things tha have been posed as possibilities as to why we see the discrepancy. but the bottom line is, it's unfortunate. and it's something we have to keep talking about. >> o'brien: this is a particularly poneiant one for those of us here at the "newshour." , of course, in november we lost gwen ifill to gynecological cancer air, different type of guin clojically cal cancer. in the case of cervical cancer, i know it's difficult for families affected because with screening, and in some case ways vaccine tcan be prevented. >> that's right. and that's i think one of the most important poants here. as we're look at the global issue of why are there racial
disparities why are there higher mortality rates than there are. and we have a screening tool to screen for cervical cancer. that's the pap smear along with the h.p.v. testing. we also have the h.p.v. or human papillomavirus vaccine that was made available in 2006, and it was indicated for young women. it doesn't protect against all strains of h.p.v. that can cause cervical cancer but it does protect against many of them. and the hope is that in further years we're going to see the benefit of that vaccine. >> o'brien: as we speak here in washington the trump administration, congress appears poised to reverse obamacare, the affordable care act. what should we do about that? >> we know the affordable care act provided care to maybe some millions, 20 million or so people. and the question is what's going to happen if that changes and how it changes? there are so many question marks we don't have. one thing i know as a family physician, though, is we have to, whatever system we go to next, however obamacare changes or doesn't change, we need to make sure that people still have access to quality and affordable care, and we need to make sure
that we're really reinforcing presentive services because things like colonoscopies, paps, mammograms, not only do they save lives but they save money down the lean. and that's one of the things we're talking about here with cervical cancer descreening is we have to make sure these preservative services are there. >> o'brien: dr. jennifer caudle, thank you very much for your time. >> thank you. >> woodruff: >> woodruff: online, the desk in vice president pence's office has seen a lot of history. he showed us today where past vice presidents and presidents, including teddy roosevelt, have left their marks. watch that video on our facebook page, facebook.com/newshour. and you can find much more on our website, pbs.org/newshour. >> o'brien: and that's the newshour for tonight. i'm miles o'brien. >> woodruff: and i'm judy woodruff. join us online, and again here
tomorrow evening. for all of us at the pbs newshour, thank you, and see you soon. >> major funding for the pbs newshour has been provided by: >> bnsf railway. >> xq institute. >> supported by the rockefeller foundation. promoting the wellbeing of humanity around the world, by building resilience and inclusive economies. more at www.rockefellerfoundation.org. >> and with the ongoing support of these institutions and individuals. >> this program was made
>> rose: welcome to the program. we begin this evening with eli broad, as a philanthropist, he's in art, finance and education. >> i've always felt an obligation to give back. the country has been good to me. the son of lithuanian immigrants. two industries, homebuilding, retirement savings. 16 years ago, we sold our last company, and i said i want to spend all my time giving back. so we created the foundation, which is in science, medical research, education, reform and the arts. and we feel great about all that. >> rose: we continue with peter kunhardt whose new documentary on hbo is called "becoming warren